Guide to NFL Injuries: Anterior cruciate ligament tears

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Condition

Anterior cruciate ligament tears or strains are one of the most common types of knee injuries. Athletes are particularly susceptible. Sports that require abrupt changes of direction, such as football, soccer, tennis, basketball, and gymnastics, expose participants to twisting their knees by mistake.

The ACL is one of the major ligaments that connect the bones of the knee joint. It keeps bones aligned properly, maintains stability, prevents excessive movement of the lower leg bone, and also controls knee movement. It’s nestled at the center point of the lower femur and upper tibia.

Torn ACL tears fall into two categories: contact and non-contact. Injuries that happen during the course of activity such as running then cutting in a different direction are considered non-contact. Contact tears occur after a blow to the outside of the knee that causes the knee to buckle.

Interestingly, women are more susceptible to ACL tears than men.

Symptoms

ACL injuries tend to be associated with a loud “popping” sensation in the knee at the time of injury. Severe pain and swelling follows. Normally, athletes are unable to continue playing. There is a significant loss of range of motion and it feels as if the knee is no longer stable.

Diagnosis

Doctors have several tests that help diagnose ACL injuries. An anterior drawer test incolves the application of force on the proximal tibia with the knee bent. The Lachman test is similar only with the knee bent at roughly 20 degrees. X-rays and MRIs can also be employed in order to assess damage.

Treatment

For injuries with the ACL intact, physical therapy can be relied on as well as wearing a Torn ACL Brace. However, the patient should not participate in high-risk activities, such as sports, ever again. Obviously, for professional athletes, this is not an option. Therefore, reconstructive ACL surgery can be considered the only long term option.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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